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DISA defends commercial cloud strategy

Jan. 21, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Tour of the new DISA headquarters

The Defense Information Systems Agency is not abandoning its strategy to offer commercial cloud services, despite scrapping a planned $450 million contract for commercial data storage, web hosting and other cloud services, according to DISA officials.

“The cancellation of the contract was... in realization that our requirement wasn’t quite clear,” said Tony Montemarano, director of strategic planning and information for DISA. “Our commercial cloud strategy has not changed. All we’re doing is we’re adjusting it to ensure we’re going after the vehicles.”

Part of the challenge is ensuring there is a sufficient customer base for any potential contract, as well as an adequate supply of vendors who meet governmentwide cloud security standards.

“We want to use the commercial cloud,” said Montemarano, who spoke Tuesday at an AFCEA event near Washington. He said DISA is considering hosting commercial cloud services internally, similar to the CIA’s approach in offering Amazon services to the intelligence community. There’s also the option of offering commercial cloud services, in which DoD’s data is hosted in commercial facilities.

“We’re going to see different solutions appropriate for different levels of data,” said David Mihelcic, DISA’s chief technology officer. Mihelcic said making DISA’s computing environment reflective of modern technology, reducing costs and increasing speed are top priorities.

Martin Gross, program executive officer for command and control capabilities, said DISA is looking at apps like the All Partners Access Network (APAN) “that should have been in the commercial cloud already.” APAN is an unclassified, non-DoD network that provides a common platform for DoD and outside entities to collaborate.

Capabilities like APAN will move from DoD facilities to the commercial cloud, as DISA refreshes those technology capabilities, Gross said.

However, the selection of approved cloud vendors to host DoD data is slim.

“We ourselves are going to take our own DoD-developed system and put it through FedRAMP,” Montemarano said. “The point is we’re going to stand up and embrace it. The question is is how many opportunities are out there today that are FedRAMP compliant? The answer is not very many.”

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